Former Children’s Minister Sarah Teather was personally thanked by Citizens UK at Liberal Democrat Conference in September for her role, as Children’s Minister, in ending child detention for immigration purposes. She said then that there was much more to achieve on the way the UK Borders Agency operates.
This week she’s launched an enquiry into the support for families within the asylum system. She wrote about that enquiry and what she wants to achieve for Politics Home:
If you have never had a conversation with a young asylum seeker about their life, I recommend it. The countries from which they have fled reads like a roll call of some of the world’s most notorious regimes: Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea.
But if the story of their past trauma and arduous journey were not enough, it is the story of their struggle here, in our country, that always makes me more uncomfortable.
There are all the obvious challenges of new language and culture. And of arriving with nothing, destitute, cut off from relatives, friends and familiar support structures.
But then there is the battle with the complex Home Office decision making structure, and the battle to make ends meet while waiting.
She says that the basic support the Home Office gives is simply not good enough:
But children need more than just the basics. They need a nutritious diet so they can develop and be healthy. They need ways to participate in society, develop socially and learn new skills just like any other child, such as by reading books and taking part in school trips. And disabled children need extra support.
You can read the whole article here.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings